Friday, March 18, 2011
"For as he thinks within himself, so he is." - Proverbs 23:7, NASB
"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford
It all starts with a thought . . . 'mmm, a cookie would be really good right now. Let's see, I have room in my calories for that, sure, I'll have a cookie.' Sometimes the 'one' turns into two or three (or more).
Then the guilt sets in. That was bad, I shouldn't have done that. Bad me.
I'm moving from a thought to a belief. Now it's not just I did something bad, but I am bad. The internal berating starts: I'm a failure, I'll never lose this weight, I'll never get my eating under control, I'll never really change.
Over time, that belief becomes a behavior; I think about a cookie, I eat a cookie, then I beat myself up because I'm such a bad person, an utter failure.
As I repeat the pattern, the behavior (think about a cookie, eat a cookie, beat myself up) becomes a habit. Something triggers it--someone else is eating a cookie, I am upset about something, whatever it is--and I fall headlong into the habit, becoming even more certain that while other people may have success, I will not. I will always go back to old ways; there's no way to break the cycle and change, I'm doomed.
Sound familiar? Yeah, been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I have lost weight multiple times before; I have gotten close to my goal weight before. Each time, though, I ended up putting all the weight back on (and then some). I was treating the symptoms (my eating) but not the disease (my thinking).
One of the most important things I've learned on SparkPeople is that I HAVE to make this a lifestyle change. It's not enough to track my food and exercise. Sorry, but it's true; there's more to losing weight than just eat less calories than you burn. Those are essential, of course, but if my focus is strictly on those two things and I don't work on changing the thoughts and beliefs behind about myself that are behind them, I'm not building a strong foundation for the future.
There are invisible weights that are more important in many ways than the pounds I am still working to lose. I have to deal with those.
When I started using SparkPeople seriously in January 2010, I wanted to lose 100 pounds. That was the most I could face losing; it was an impossibly large number to me. I'm now three-quarters of the way to that goal; as of Saturday, I have lost 75 pounds.
Another 8 pounds, and I will no longer be obese according to the BMI charts.
Another 25 pounds, and I will reach my original goal to lose 100 pounds.
Another 36 pounds, and I will no longer be overweight by those same BMI charts.
There have been big changes in my body, obviously. I used to wear a size 20/22; today my size 12 jeans are a little loose, and I just bought a size 10 bathing suit (snug, but quite wearable).
I've lost over 12 inches off my waist.
I shop in the misses or juniors sections now instead of plus or womens, and it is FUN to shop instead of completely depressing.
I went from being winded walking two blocks to running as much as 6 miles and training for a half marathon.
Those are big, wonderful changes, and I celebrate them, but there are days that I still struggle. I still sometimes have the 'old' thought process (yeah, I'm doing good right now, but just wait, I'll gain all the weight back). I believe in other people, but I have trouble believing in myself, even with all I've been able to accomplish so far.
When that happens, I know that I need to do more work on my thinking. It's one of the things running has taught me. If I think, 'yeah, I can run this distance, just keep going,' then I can usually do it. If I think, 'this is hard, I don't think I can go any farther,' know what? I probably am going to quit and walk. I've been running long enough now that my body is quite capable of going 5-6 miles or more; it's my thinking that has to catch up.
That is what I am working on these days, even more than my food intake or exercise. The food trackers here are great; they make it relatively easy to keep an eye on those things. They don't have a thought tracker, though. That's up to me to do on my own.
I do it by having a vision collage that motivates me, reading blogs and articles, encouraging others, blogging, participating in SparkTeams and challenges, and talking to Spark Friends. When I start getting down on myself or discouraged, I have to do a reality check about where I was and where I am now.
Take captive every thought . . . that's what I need to do to succeed. The beliefs, behaviors and habits will follow.
What are you working on these days to help you succeed?
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Yesterday really was just one of those days (ever read 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' when you were a kid--or to your kids?). Today, however, was much, much, MUCH better.
I went to bed early (for me) last night and got a good night's sleep (7 1/2 hours--unheard of during the week). Hubby is almost over his cold and was up for going to the gym in the morning, so I got my exercise endorphin fix for the day by running 3.11 miles on the treadmill. Those endorphins really are addictive, and getting them first thing in the morning like that makes the whole day a little brighter--plus it gets my calorie burn off on the right foot as well, which means I tend to burn more calories all day long. Nothing like hearing my bodybugg display go off to tell me I hit my step target and exercise target before 7:30 a.m.!
I never used to be a morning workout person, but now that I have gotten into a routine, it is definitely my preference. It starts the day off right, eliminates excuses, and ensures that it happens. The only weekday we don't go to the gym in the morning is Friday, because I work earlier hours and we can sometimes get a run in outside after work. Now it's just part of the daily routine--I figure out what I'm going to wear to work the next day and pack my gym bag accordingly, lay out my workout clothes, and then I'm ready to go right away in the morning.
If you haven't tried working out in the morning, give it a shot. You might be surprised by how much it helps the rest of your day. And with that, I'm going to bed in hopes that another good night's sleep will make tomorrow even better!!
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Just in case anyone has the idea that I have it all together and have this all figured out, today was one of 'those' days. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. If you're looking for an upbeat, positive blog, better move on to another one.
Hubby has a bad cold and I feel like I'm coming down with one too, so we didn't make it to the gym today. My calorie burn as a result is nearly nonexistent (thank you, bodybugg, for reminding me daily that I have to WORK to burn calories!). Yes, I could have gotten out my Wii or exercise DVDs or hopped on the exercise bike instead, but I had a crummy attitude and didn't get off my duff to do any of those things. Boo me; I know I feel better if I get some exercise in, but I didn't do it.
I'm trying to not fret too much over a deposit that the bank missed and hasn't found yet, while trying to figure out how we can get this sorted out without it costing us a lot of time and money. I'm sad for friends who are going through tough times (much tougher than anything in my life), and I'm finding the gray weather here this time of year a little harder than usual to deal with. (Hello, sun? Could we make an appointment for you to stay out for more than a few minutes or so at a time--especially on the weekends?)
There is nothing really, truly, seriously wrong in my life right now, but you wouldn't know it by the scowl on my face. I am usually pretty positive and optimistic; at the moment, though, I'm downright grumpy. I find myself wandering into the kitchen to 'browse' what's there even though I am not hungry and don't need anything else. So far I've been able to walk away without eating anything, but I need to quit it--enough visits and I WILL start eating things I don't need.
This too will pass; I know it. It's just part of life to have down days periodically, much as I'd like to skip them. I don't have too many, thankfully; I think I'll go pack my gym bag for the morning and head to bed a little earlier than usual to start tomorrow out a little better. That's probably half of my problem right there--not getting enough sleep.
'Night all, I will try to write a happier blog next time!
Monday, March 07, 2011
"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is." Kara Goucher, American long-distance runner
I started the Couch to 5K plan one year ago this month. Little did I know then how much running would become a part of my life or what an impact it would make. Here are a few of the things that I have learned from a year of running:
- Small beginnings can lead to big things. A year ago, it was all I could do to complete the run/walk intervals from week one of C25K at a snail's pace--I was doing a 16 minute mile if I was lucky. Yesterday I did 6.2 miles at an average speed of 13:23, and my shorter runs tend to be around 12 minute miles or better. I may never be fast, but knowing where I started and where I am now, I have confidence that I can continue to improve.
- Start slow and build momentum. I couldn't start running the longer intervals in C25K until I learned to s-l-o-w way down, even slower than I could walk at times; going slower allowed me to go for longer and longer distances. The funny thing is, even without specifically working on speed, my pace has improved as I've continued running. The momentum that developed by slowing down has carried me longer and farther than I could have imagined.
- Persistence pays off. I didn't progress through C25K as fast as the plan calls for (nine weeks); I repeated days and sometimes even weeks because I didn't feel ready to move on. Eventually, though, I got to where I could run 30 minutes without walking and ran a 5K with no walk breaks. Now my 'easy' runs are 2-3 miles.
- The biggest battles are in the mind. One of the reasons I didn't go through C25K in nine weeks is because my mind did not believe my body could do it. I didn't beat the '20 minute monster' (the first longer run of 20 minutes) until I was able to listen to my body more than my mind and push past the negative voice that screamed at me to walk (and still does sometimes). I learned to take inventory when my brain said 'stop': breathing okay? legs okay? pain anywhere? then KEEP GOING!
- Learning to listen to my body is important. The only way I could push through the mental battles was by listening to my body to see if it was able to keep going. Likewise, if something doesn't feel right when I'm running, I have to pay attention to tell whether it's because I've gotten sloppy with my form, I'm pushing too hard, or there's something really wrong. I won't hesitate to cut a run short if needed; I want to be able to run for years to come, so I'd rather err on the side of caution to avoid a serious injury now. Yeah, I plan on being that 80 year old granny running in races, LOL!
- People are far more accepting of me than I expect. I participated in a running club last year and was the slowest person in the group by a long shot; every person there, however, made me feel welcome and accepted me where I was. That has been true of nearly all the runners I have met; I find I have more in common with them than I would have thought possible. It's as though running was the initiation into a group that I once thought was aloof and elitist; nothing could be further from the truth.
- Setting goals and making plans for reaching them is essential. When I was doing C25K, I knew how long I should be running and how often; when I finished and didn't have any firm goals afterward, I floundered awhile. I tried different plans, but I couldn't get excited about any of them. Once I actually registered for a half marathon (and then a second!), I knew I had to become much more consistent and intentional about my running. I set up a plan for myself and have been following it ever since, and I have been thrilled with the progress I've been making.
- Not every day is a personal record or a woo hoo moment. Some runs are easy and fun, but others are slow, hard, and an effort to even start. That's life; accept it and appreciate the great runs when they come, and try to learn from the hard ones. The only runs I've regretted so far, though, are the ones I did not get out and do; even the hard ones bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and they help me keep moving toward my goals.
I am so grateful to people like KARVY09 and others who have shared their experiences about running and to all the people who have encouraged me. They gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, someone like me could do it too. I discovered an active person--dare I say even an athlete--inside me that I didn't know existed.
I never expected when I started trying to run that the process would teach me about the rest of my journey. As I look back, it's amazing how those same lessons have applied to developing a healthy lifestyle--starting small, slowing down, being persistent, and so on. I'm excited to see what other lessons I can learn along the way, because there is always something new to discover.
Running is not the answer to everything in life, of course. It won't solve world hunger or find a cure for cancer (though many races raise money for those and other causes!), and it's not for everyone. It has been the right thing for me, however, and I'm so glad that I didn't give up and quit when it seemed impossible that I'd ever be able to do it.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Thank you to all who commented on my post about family matters. I appreciate the prayer more than you know; it's a complicated situation, so we need much wisdom and grace during this time.
Okay, before I get too sidetracked, it's time to review February and plan some goals for March.
February maybe a short month on the calendar, but it has FELT like one of the longest ever. Cold, rain, sunshine, snow--you name it, we had it this month. I am glad it's over, I'm so ready for spring this year!
Time to review how I did for February:
- New recipes: Didn't do quite as well as I would have liked on this one (I was too lazy to pull out recipes!), but I did try a couple of new ones and liked them.
- Calorie cycling: That went well; I was able to stick to the guidelines and think it is helping. At any rate it makes it more interesting to have a couple of higher calorie days to look forward to!
- Half marathon training: That's going well; I'm actually a touch ahead of schedule, and it's been fun tracking things on a spreadsheet.
- Strength training: This is also going well. The personal trainer we have been seeing let us have four sessions because we did them combined--he probably wasn't supposed to do that, but it sure helped. Now we're working out when we can afford to hire him for at least a couple more months!
- Write regularly: Check--it helped that the first challenge on the Winter-1 5% challenge gave points for writing blogs, but I'm nothing if not verbose, LOL!
- Balance: Not bad--this is an ongoing process for me, though, and probably will be the rest of my life.
Be in the 170s: this one is a cautious YES--I hit 179.6 lbs. yesterday. I'm cautious because I'd like to see that number (or lower) a time or two before I consider it an 'official' weight. Confession: I weigh myself almost every day. Please don't lecture me on this one; weighing frequently keeps me honest with myself and works for me. The scale doesn't dictate what kind of day I will have, but I do celebrate when I see a new low. If the daily weighing starts messing with my head too much, I'll put the scale away for awhile.
A couple of highlights in February: Hubby and I did a 4-mile race together and had fun in spite of the hills on it. We also did a 6-mile run ahead of schedule without any problems. My speed has been gradually improving, too; I did a 3.5 mile run on the treadmill and had an average pace of 11:45 for the whole thing today.
On now to March goals, which look remarkably similar to my February goals:
- New recipes: I'd like to aim for four new recipes this month again, hopefully hitting that goal this time. I just got a new cookbook on artisan breads that I'm excited to try; the challenge will be to figure out the calories in these wonderful hearty bread recipes I'm going to make--and how to keep from devouring too much at one time since I am a bread lover.
- Calorie cycling: Planning to continue this one; I like the variety and think I am starting to see a pattern in my weight loss by doing it.
- Half marathon training: Continue with this; by the end of the month I should be up to about 7 mile runs on my long runs.
- Strength training: Continue this as well, preferably 3 days a week and not just 2X; the personal trainer showed us a ton of things we can do, so I want to write up a couple of different sets we can use.
- Write regularly: I want to blog at least once or twice a week--and keep them generally shorter so you kind people don't have read so many novels from me and so it doesn't take me so long to write them!
- Balance: Continue finding ways to keep balance in my life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That is going to be especially important when I make the trip down to see family later in March; it will no doubt be a stressful time based on how things are already shaping up. Balance will be key.
I'm not hyper focused on the number, but I would like to lose 4 or more pounds in March so that I'm firmly into the 170s and making progress towards the 160s. I'll be taking measurements tomorrow so I can see whether there's much of a change in that regard; as long as the trend continues to be downward between weight, measurements, and clothes sizes, I'm satisfied. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
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